A 13-minute video by a bitter foe of presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill, has recently appeared on the Internet. The video has already attracted a great amount of attention.
The clip, a preview of a longer film by one-time Clinton donor Peter Paul, has scored more than 1.4 million hits on Google Video and about 350,000 on YouTube during the past week. It has already become the most popular video on Google Video over the past two weeks. In addition, it is the most-viewed political YouTube video in Britain.
Paul is a Hollywood entrepreneur, former partner of Spider-Man creator Stan Lee and convicted felon, who has sued the Clintons over a celebrity-packed fundraiser he helped organize for her 2000 Senate race. A California appeals court ruled this month that Sen. Clinton should be dismissed from the suit.
But Paul has devoted a Web site to the case and has been on tour in recent days showing his film, "Hillary Uncensored," at college campuses. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to screen it at the Metropolitan Club in New York City.
Paul contends the Clintons misled him into organizing the Hollywood event and that her role in the fundraiser broke federal campaign finance laws.
The Clintons have long argued that Paul's criminal record discredits him and in court pleadings have denied Paul's claims against them.
"Peter Paul is a professional liar who has four separate criminal convictions, two for fraud. His video repackages a series of 7-year-old false claims about Senator Clinton that have already been rejected by the California state courts, the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee," the Clinton campaign said in a statement.
Paul's anti-Clinton effort is getting help from two technical producers who set up the Web site for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an intensive broadcasting project during the 2004 presidential campaign that went after Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry by raising questions about his decorated military service in swift boats, small boats that plied the Mekong River during the Vietnam War. The campaign was partly blamed for Kerry's loss to President George W. Bush and was so successful that the verb "swiftboating" has entered American English for similar propaganda campaigns against political candidates.
The producers, Robert Hahn and Scott Swett, operate www.HillCAP.org, the Web site that Paul set up in 2005 to feature court documents, videos and news articles related to his lawsuit. The video trailer "Hillary Uncensored," and the schedule for the movie are prominently displayed on the site.
Among those featured in the video speaking in support of Paul is David Schippers, who served as chief investigative counsel for the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee during President Clinton's 1998 impeachment hearings. Clinton was acquitted.
In his lawsuit and in the film, Paul says he spent $1.9 million (EUR 1.3 million) for the August 2000 Hollywood fundraiser that featured stars including Brad Pitt, Diana Ross, Cher and others. Paul maintains he organized the event because President Clinton falsely agreed to help him in a new venture with cartoonist Lee after leaving the presidency in January 2001.
Campaign reports filed with the Federal Election Commission estimated the cost of the event at about $500,000 (Eur 347,450). An ensuing criminal trial of Clinton's former national finance director, David Rosen, on charges that he lied to the FEC about the fundraiser, resulted in acquittal. At the time, Rosen's lawyer said Paul concealed the cost of the event from Rosen, a claim Paul denies.
The film also includes a tape recording recently obtained by Paul of Sen. Clinton thanking him in advance for staging the event, which he says is proof that she illegally coordinated the fundraiser with him. The appellate court ruling that dismissed her from the case concluded the call did not amount to new evidence.
The complexities of the case are all fodder for the video clip and the movie, spiced with clips of Hollywood performers.
"Her abuse of her power as reflected in my case should make everybody pause about entrusting her with the reins of government," Paul said in an interview.
Paul is awaiting sentencing on his 2005 guilty plea to charges of stock fraud involving Stan Lee Media, the company Paul had wanted Clinton to join. In the 1970s, he was convicted of cocaine possession and of attempting to defraud the Cuban government.
Swett, who is running Paul's HillCAP Web site, said the video has helped drive more traffic to the Web site, but the activity is far less frequent than it was on the site he operated for Swift Boat Veterans in 2004.
"Then it was in the final months before the election, and we're a year out at this point," he said. "There's a lot of complexity to the Peter Paul lawsuit. You have to read through some of the documents to get a handle on it. That was less the case with the charges that the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs were making against John Kerry."